Children bear the brunt of climate change as it affects their fundamental right to survival, development, protection and participation.
The ‘Protect a Generation: Climate security for India’s children’ report by PwC India and Save the Children India is based on a year-long study of 636 households in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal, covering three different hazard-prone ecosystems floods, droughts, and cyclones, the report says.
People in the three states said extreme weather conditions have impacted their economic situation, while up to 58 per cent of the respondents said their children faced health issues due to climate crises.
The study aims to understand the impact of climate change on children, identify risk and mitigation strategies, and develop a roadmap for a climate-resilient future.
The growing instances of extreme weather events like floods, cyclones, erosions in disaster-prone areas increase the socioeconomic and psychosocial vulnerabilities of the children living in these geographies and threaten their fundamental rights, the report said.
The key findings of the study include:
“The environmental, social, and economic impact of climate change can be lasting and significant in a developing country like India with a population of more than 1.3 billion. The lives and livelihoods of a significant proportion of the population may be affected, especially those dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, tourism, animal husbandry, and fisheries, says the report.
India’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, with about 58% of the population dependent on agriculture for livelihoods.27 Studies predict a decrease in annual agricultural incomes by 15–18% and in agriculture yield by as much as 2.9% due to climate change.28 In India, 268 million people survive on less than USD 1.90 a day.29 While the impact of climate change will be spread across India, it will be pronounced in rural areas and among the marginalized and socio-economically backward communities, aggravating the existing vulnerabilities.
The issue of climate change and its impact on children is of utmost importance in a country like India, which has a significant child population.
“The report highlights the impact of such disasters on marginalized and vulnerable children”, said Sudarshan Suchi, the CEO of Save the Children to media.
Based on the findings of studies conducted, six adaptation strategies are proposed: